Much has been written about Lord Carter's proposals to reduce the filing deadline for SA tax returns, and the implications for accountancy practices generally. The report does, however, have a number of other recommendations which will impact businesses generally; while the proposed change to the filing deadline is important, the furore it has created risks overshadowing the remainder of Lord Carters recommendations.
Lord Carter has suggested that HMRC should have an aspirational goal that all business tax returns should be filed online by 2012.
The "universal" aim that all returns should be filed by all businesses must therefore include an element of compulsion. The proposed timeline in Appendix 5 of the Carter report indicates that most of this progress is planned for the period leading up to 2010, which allows for two years of potential slippage within this overall goal. No new primary legislation is required to bring all tax returns within compulsory online filing, as enabling legislation was included in Finance Act 2002 at Section 135, and mandatory online filing can be achieved by the issue of detailed Regulations specifying the type of return and the implementation date.
So, is your business ready to start filing everything online? Here is how the individual recommendations pan out, assuming the deadlines recommended are adopted: